The strange weather patterns continue this year in our far corner of the Pacific Northwest, with oddly cool mornings and sunny afternoons, and those darned clouds piled up against the mountains where we want to hike. (For those sweltering in the blazing heat waves of other regions, forgive me.) Thor, Bear dog, and I finally just HAD to head for the high meadows the other day, accompanied by some magical thinking that persuaded us the forecast for thunderstorms wasn’t serious.
Parking at the trailhead for a favorite hike to Yellow Aster Butte, figuring we’d just go as high as we could get before we hit the lingering snow level, we set out. Instantly, the clouds closed in and rain gathered momentum. Growing up here, I pride myself on hiking through the rain, so I urged Thor to give it a shot. “Don’t be a wuss.”
The rain pounded harder. “Okay, okay.” Down to lower elevations we retreated, in search of a drier hike for a picnic. The perfect, easy solution presented itself: Horseshoe Bend trail that follows the North Fork of the Nooksack River. It’s a favored tourist and family hike, with a parking area just off the Mt. Baker Highway a couple miles past the ranger station at Glacier. Usually, in our snobbish fashion, we sneer at such “baby hikes,” and I hadn’t visited it in years. As we hiked, however, we found that we’d been misjudging a lovely trail through lush rain-forest foliage along the scenic river. (It’s also a popular spot for river rafters to put in for a wild ride.)
Bear happily guided us along the start of the trail, which is very well-groomed and gradual, offering many enticements to stop for river-gazing.
After a mile or so, the trail narrowed and started getting twistier and muddier, climbing up and down around steeper drops to the river. A drizzle of rain began to penetrate the thick foliage overhead, but hardly enough to dampen our clothing or spirits.
After another mile or so, the trail, high now above the river, began to dwindle to a steeply undercut track, so we decided to head back and look for our picnic spot.
We settled into the perfect place nestled among huge boulders and sheltered by some overhanging branches as the rain started getting more serious, apparently having chased us down from the heights. I decided to pass on my usual river dip.
Bear was more intrepid.
I did manage a bit of rock hopping.
As we finished up and headed back for the car, loud thunder peals began to roll down around us, and suddenly we were drenched in a downpour even the dense cedars couldn’t hold back. Damp but satisfied with another — literal — chance to go “forest bathing,” we cruised back to Bellingham, where naturally the sun was gaily shining. But, hey, this is the Northwest!
If you’d rather read than hike in the rain, all of my Book View Cafe ebooks are discounted as a Westercon Special for the month of July — $2 off regular price, if purchased from the www.bookviewcafe.com online bookstore. Use the code $2-OFF-STAMEY-WCON
You will find The Rambling Writer’s blogs here on alternate Saturdays. Sara’s newest from Book View Cafe was recently released in print and ebook: The Ariadne Connection. It’s a near-future thriller set in the Greek islands. “Technology triggers a deadly new plague. Can a healer find the cure?” The novel has received the Cygnus Award for Speculative Fiction.